Arusha, September 6, 2001 (FH) - The defence lawyer for former Rwandan military leader Gratien Kabiligi on Thursday asked the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to sanction the prosecution for bringing what he called a frivolous motion. Kabiligi is due to be tried for genocide with three other former Rwandan military leaders: Anatole Nsengiyumva, Aloys Ntabakuze and Théoneste Bagosora, who was former advisor (chef de cabinet) at the Rwandan defence ministry.

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Kabiligi's Togolese counsel Jean Yaovi Degli told the court there was "no doubt" about the frivolous nature of the motion and urged the court to impose sanctions for having "disturbed the court with motions that have no raison d'être". The prosecution motion seeks to harmonize measures on pre-trial disclosure to the defence of prosecution witness statements and identities. Prosecutors said there are currently three different court orders setting deadlines of between 21 and 60 days before trial for the disclosure of unredacted statements (that is, with nothing blanked out). Prosecution suggested that this be harmonized to 21 days, but defence lawyers for the accused all protested. Degli said that if harmonization were necessary it should be done "in a positive direction", meaning that the deadline should be fixed rather at 60 days. "Why should our rights be curtailed by (prosecution) house keeping matters?" asked Bagosora's French lawyer Raphael Constant. "We are in a situation where the Prosecutor is pushing us against the wall. "The prosecution motion also asks that defence be banned from contacting potential prosecution witnesses or members of their families without the court's permission. Defence argued that the main issue was the disclosure of documents in good time. "It is as though there is no disclosure at all - a lot is hidden from us under the guise of concealing the identity of witnesses," said Nsengiyumva's Kenyan counsel Otachi Bw'Omanwa. The court heard that the lawyers had so far 872 statements to study before the trial. "Our aim is not to undermine witness protection but that we should have enough time to defend our clients," Constant told the court. He asked that prosecution should above all disclose its list of witnesses in good time. At one point in the proceedings, prosecutors said they plan to bring 150 witnesses in this joint trial. The case is before the ICTR's Trial Chamber Three, composed of judges Lloyd George Williams of St Kitts and Nevis (presiding), Yakov Ostrovsky, of Russia and Pavel Dolenc of Slovenia. The court will consider the motion before rendering a decision. It also set a status conference for November 15th to 16th,, which will look at a possible date for start of trial. AT/SW/JC/FH (ML0906E )